If you cannot beat them, join them. For that reason this Chair of IP has decided to announce a NEW sui generis Protection of Traditional Knowledge Bill in the hope that something may yet be done to save us all.
Government’s current attempt at protecting traditional knowledge by amending current IP statutes remains an unmitigated disaster, the scope of which is yet to be fully realised. This Chair, among many others, has expressed its distress at the current Traditional Knowledge Bill (likely to be the Protection of Traditional Knowledge Act soon) in no uncertain terms. And despite the fact that the Chair’s criticism of the Bill has been cited with support by some of the world’s foremost authorities on IP and TK, the Portfolio Committee’s ignorance of these same facts is only exceeded by Government’s ignorance of (international) law. As a result, the current TK Bill is likely to survive its journey across the President’s desk.
For this reason, and after repeated pleas to do so, the Chair has decided to publish a new and workable TK Bill. This proposal is the work of the incumbent Chair and proves that TK is better protected by sui generis legislation. The intention is unmistakable – to illustrate how the Bill should appear.
Although the Chair maintains its earlier position about the current Bill, this publication is intended to mitigate the calamity our IP law will face if the Bill in its current format becomes law. Therefore, the new Bill builds on, expands, corrects and delineates the scope of the current Bill to make it work (however difficult) as an independent statute for this (clearly) independent type of work.
Of course, trying to breathe life into the current Bill is an unenviable task, but at least it goes (a long way) beyond mere criticism of the current Bill.
Be warned: let it not be said that this Chair is in favour of the current TK Bill (our views are clear for all to see). However, if you insist on the current Bill, at least do it properly. Download the documents to see how.
Written by Prof Owen Dean, Chair of Intellectual Property Law of the University of Stellenbosch